NHS: Electronic medical records get green light

Department of Health resumes process of getting patient permissions for Summary Care Records...

Department of Health resumes process of getting patient permissions for Summary Care Records...

Summary Care Records

A total of 5.7 million electronic records have been created for patients in EnglandPhoto: Shutterstock

The Department of Health (DoH) has restarted the process of creating centralised electronic medical records for all NHS patients in England.

Last April, the DoH partly suspended the creation of Summary Care Records (SCRs) - electronic patient records containing basic medical information such as medication, allergies and adverse reactions - while it reviewed whether SCRs were being created for patients without their full consent.

On Thursday 31 March, the DoH announced it has restarted the process of sending letters to patients asking them if they want a SCR created for them.

Following last year's review, the DoH has made the opt-out process simpler and has clarified the information sent to patients about the scheme.

When patients do not opt out of having an SCR, the DoH will automatically create one for them.

To date, 5.7 million SCRs have been created across England and 30.3 million patients have been contacted about the scheme. Of those patients who have been notified about SCRs, 1.16 per cent have decided to opt out.

SCRs are designed to provide medical information to clinicians who are providing emergency or unplanned care to unfamiliar patients.

The records are created using details stored in the electronic patient records held by GP surgeries.

Health minister Simon Burns said in a statement: "As the NHS modernises, the SCR's value will grow because it ensures that clinicians from urgent and emergency care providers will have crucial medical information at their fingertips."

Earlier this year it was revealed that only a tiny number of patients have used the NHS website HealthSpace to view their SCRs online.